Via Allegro Ristorante's year-round patio feels like summer in Italy

Tucked behind the restaurant, Via Allegro Ristorante's large, glass-enclosed heated patio is brimming with pink flower-drenched trees, setting a scene that feels like summer even in winter.

Via Allegro Ristorante | Inside the glass-enclosed heated patio

Since I live in the west end of the city, near the Ossington strip, I often find myself popping over to Sherway Gardens, whether it's for shopping in a more civilized environment than the Eaton Centre or to meet friends who live further west. But with all of the options (albeit mostly large chains and fast food, not the best restaurants in the city) available at the mall, I rarely ever explore the surrounding area.

On a Thursday evening in February, I finally cross The Queensway to discover Via Allegro Ristorante. 

Via Allegro Ristorante: What's the vibe

Entering through the glass doors outfitted with curving wrought iron, I wonder if the restaurant is going to pull off the decor that I'd seen on social media or fall more on the kitchsy side of things. The first thing to greet me is a wall of greenery with a glowing pink neon sign that says, "Amore" circled in a heart. As a millennial, I find it adorable, and the perfect photo opp. Stepping around the barrier to get a full view of the restaurant, the sprawling space is beautiful. 

Via Allegro Ristorante | A table under pink flowers inside the glass-enclosed heated patio
Via Allegro Ristorante | Nighttime inside the glass-enclosed heated patio

It's quiet, even for a weekday, but February is known to be one of the slowest times for restaurants. We head to the back and through double doors to reveal the new glass-enclosed, all-weather patio. It's gorgeous. Pink blossoms hang from an abundance of faux trees that fill the space, juxtaposed against a beautiful midnight blue and slate grey. In real life, it's even more stunning than the photos. This fabulous patio easily puts this spot among the most romantic restaurants in the city.

Bright jazz music playfully dances out of the speaker; as we sip our cocktails, my friend sighs, "It feels like summer in Italy." Our server offers us both blankets several times throughout the night, but with the heater going, we never need them. We're warm and cozy, and the enclosed space feels like being out on a patio, even on one of the coldest days this February. It's a beautiful escape from winter in the city, right in Etobicoke.

Via Allegro: What's on the menu

The menu of Italian dishes is full of familiarity — I could easily bring a date, friends or family to this relaxed yet refined spot. We start with the scallop crudo, with apple, cucumber, mint and sunchoke. It arrives at the table served in the shells and suspended over a bed of dry ice that smokes when our server pours water into it. The showmanship is a nice little display. We dig in and find the scallops taste fresh, delicate and delicious, but the dish is extremely zesty. It's cut a little bit by the apple and cucumber, but is quite overpowering. The flavour is almost too punchy, but intriguing, and we still finish every last morsel.

Via Allegro Ristorante | Scallop crudo at Via Allegro
Via Allegro Ristorante | Short rib agnolotti at Via Allegro

In between courses, we're served a sorbet to cleanse our palates, but it's so sweet and tasty, it feels like having dessert in the middle of the meal — in the best way.

When our mains arrive, we're not sure what to expect. My friend has the spinach and ricotta rotoloni, pasta roll-ups filled with spinach and ricotta that come sitting in a pool of tomato sauce. It's fresh, light and tasty. 

I take a bite of my dish, the short rib agnolotti, and it elicits a cry of happiness. The pasta is perfectly firm, the short rib filling melts in my mouth, and the creamy sauce with truffle and talleggio cheese is sublime. Maitake mushrooms add more meaty flavour and texture to the plate. The short rib takes a long time to make, I'm told, and I can taste the effort that's gone into this dish. It's one of the best plates of pasta I've ever had, and I know I'll be dreaming about it for weeks to come.

Via Allegro Ristorante | Sprinkling cheese onto the short rib agnolotti at Via Allegro
Via Allegro Ristorante | Serving the short rib agnolotti at Via Allegro

Via Allegro: What's on the drink menu

We start the meal with cocktails from the menu of unique serves. My friend goes with the Amara Flower Spritz, a prosecco-forward sipper with hints of bitter and sweet. The Lavender Heart was added to the menu for Valentine's Day, but kept on due to its popularity, and I can instantly see why. It's gin-forward with just enough sweetness and complexity from blueberry, basil, lemon and lavender. 

We're tempted by the lengthy list of wines available by the glass, ½ litre or bottle, with plenty of representation from Italy, as well as other countries like France, Australia, Argentina and the U.S. But we both have to drive home, so I opt for the Zenzero Colada, a super sweet, tropical mocktail. 

Via Allegro Ristorante | The Lavender Heart cocktail at Via Allegro
Via Allegro Ristorante | The wine cellar room at Via Allegro

All in all, it's a beautiful night. Via Allegro Ristorante could easily be a date-night spot, a place to catch up with girlfriends or a nice family dinner restaurant. Everything from the service to the dishes feels easy and comfortable on the enchanting heated patio, like a summer day in Italy.

Dinner and drinks for two: around $170 before tax and tip